How Does It Affect Me?
Credit reporting agency, Equifax, reported on Sept. 7 that its company suffered a massive security breach that affects an estimated 143 million people. Equifax is one of the three major credit reporting agencies that tracks and rates the financial history of U.S. consumers. The company obtains its data from credit card companies, banks, retailers and public records. Therefore, while you may not have directly used Equifax, chances are the company has some of your personal information if you have a credit card or have ever applied for insurance or a loan.
What was Stolen?
The information stolen includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and some driver’s license numbers.
What is particularly troubling about this breach is that with the right combination of stolen information, identity thieves can impersonate you and open new
credit accounts in your name, including for loans, housing or government benefits.
What Can I Do About It?
Equifax will not
be contacting everyone affected, but will send direct mail notices to those whose credit card numbers or credit dispute records were accessed.
In addition, Equifax established www.equifaxsecurity2017.com
to help you check if your personal information was exposed. On the site, click on “Potential Impact.” Please be aware that to ensure the person checking the database is really you, the site asks for your last name and last six digits of your social security number. Please make sure to enter this information on a secure computer that is connected to an encrypted network.
Equifax also is offering free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection for one year through TrustedID Premier whether you have been affected by the breach or not. You can enroll at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com
You may also want to consider placing a credit freeze
on your Equifax credit information. A credit freeze locks down your credit and makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name.
You could also place a fraud alert
on your credit reports. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be the victim of identity theft, and they will have to go through extra steps to verify your identity before accessing your credit report.
While both a credit freeze and fraud alert make it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name, they may not prevent someone from making changes to your existing accounts.
First National Bank is providing this information to help you protect your information, but is not making recommendations on specific actions or inaction. It is important for you to evaluate the options and decide on the best course of action for you.
For more information from the Federal Trade Commission about the Equifax breach and what you can do about it, visit their website
. To reach Equifax by phone, you can call 866-447-7559 every day (including weekends) from 7 a.m. – 1 a.m. Eastern time.
Always Be Vigilant
As always, First National Bank recommends that you review your account statements and credit reports on an ongoing basis to check for incidents of fraud. You can request a copy of your credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com
. You are allowed a free copy of your credit report once per year from each of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Requesting your report from one agency every four months allows you to review your credit report throughout the year.